Online Dating – Dangerous Ishq!


In this era of busy lifestyle, it is obvious that people have less time to dedicate to their personal lives and hence tend to become lonely. If I say that we live in the age of lonely hearts… I may not be wrong!

These lonely hearts always try to find some or the other way to escape their emptiness… With social media taking over… rather, leading the communication sector… it has proved to be the best tool and the most common way to find friends… and also that ‘special someone’.

Just like any relationship… online relationships too have their own success as well as unsuccessful stories. However, here the issue is that we begin getting closer and opening our heart to some one we never met… we don’t know at all about that person still we get in to the relationship and find a soulmate in that person… hence chances of things going wrong are comparatively more.

I consider such scams into two categories;

1. Personal

2. Cyber threats

When I talk about personal benefits, spying and money extortion tops the list. Any one who wants to spy an individual can fall in love with or make the individual fall in love online. People find this as an easy way to fool some one and earn money in the name of emotions and friendship.

I am sure many of us might have faced such situation wherein, we have met some one online who gradually becomes good friends and then at times love. Later that person may have asked for financial help stating that they are facing some unforeseen situations. Usually such online relationships are short-term though with a promise of long-term at the beginning. The intention is financial benefit. The day you deny helping such person, you do not love or rather trust that person!

As per FBI, chances of women being trapped in such romance Scams is double than men. Last year (2011) the losses reported from this type of fraud reached $50.4 million, with the average victim losing around $8,900 in the name of love. The FBI report also claims that at a rate of 15 complaints received per day, these scams saw daily reported losses of approximately $138,000, or more than $5,700 every hour.

 Most of the times, it is difficult to identify the intentions of the real people behind the fake profiles. The scam artists are innovative in terms of developing new tricks and excellent when it comes to creating characters online to run such frauds. They win trust and heart of victims and often leave them heartbroken and financially ruined.

 The second category of Online dating scams is cyber threats. With the growing cyber age… cyber terrorism, cyber espionage is on peak. Cyber criminals easily take advantage of people adapting to the online dating and relationships in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. Hackers know that in the name of love, fooling people is easy. Moreover, once the trust is won, it is easy to get access the victim’s financial information with an intention of identity theft. Such activities include less effort and help attain maximum output with zero percent physical interaction. No doubt, online dating is a billion dollar industry!

 These days online scammers have started a new scam campaign on Facebook wherein they alert you that someone has viewed your profile or has showed interest in you or has posted a message for you. Then to know more about it they ask you to click on the mentioned link (fraud). Once you click on that link, you welcome malware in your system that takes over your system by infecting it.  

 In addition, at times dating sites are hacked due to improper security measures deployed by the web site. Even if the user exercises utmost caution, the site itself may provide complete information about the member to the hackers including CC number, etc. in case the victim is a paid registered member. Recently, a military dating website – www.militarysingles.com was hacked into by hackers wherein they took confidential information such as passwords, email addresses, etc. from more than 170,000 records. 

 Moreover, in case the photographs are shared while in the online relationship, anyone can take advantage of those pictures. I hope you know about morphed images! People who fall prey of such scams not only face financial loss buy also embarrassment that is usually tragic.

 So, next time anyone who tries to find love online, always ensure of not sharing any kind of sensitive information while interacting on dating sites. Parents, especially of teens, should be cautious and ensure that the child is not getting in such practices. Remember that photographs are not the right proof to judge the genuinity of person and may not even show the real sender (scammer). There is a possibility that the love interest (scammer) of the victim may not even be the same gender that was informed at the beginning of the relationship. It is not that such scams may only happen when some one approaches to the victim. There is a possibility that the scammers may have created a profile on the dating site and then waits for a potential victim to contact them.

 At times, scammers send out random unsolicited emails stating that they are a loner or have a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Many a times, such relationships also begin in chat rooms or messengers.

 Well, I know, anyone reading this may have a question in their mind – is it possible to find love online? I would say, anything is possible… however, I guess we ourselves are the better person who can think best for us! Or may be we are looking for love in wrong places!

NOW COMPUTERS WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR PAIN!


When we are sick, the worst thing that we go through is someone questioning what exactly you are going through… where is it paining and to what extend is it paining… its very irritating… right? In addition, the situation is tougher with infants, elderly, debilitated or unconscious patients.

Pain being considered to be the fifth vital sign, it is considered as one of the key elements of the patient assessment. Doctors completely rely on patients to tell them whether they are in pain. Well, however, gone are the days when we had to keep trying to explain to our doctor how much something hurts on a scale of one to 10. Recently, the Scientists at Stanford University have taken an initiative in creating a new gold standard for assessing pain using computer learning software.

As the research and development continues for this innovation, the scientists have been able to predict most of the time whether the volunteers are experiencing pain or not. Moreover, to get these results, they have combined computer-learning software with a catalogue of MIR brain scans. For the study, the team uses a linear support vector machine – a computer algorithm – to classify patterns of brain activity and determine whether someone is experiencing pain. For this, the volunteers who undergo the brain scans are touched by a mildly heated probe and then again on a painfully hot setting. The computer uses data from these scans to recognise different brain activity patterns that occurs when a person is detecting heat, and which ones detect pain. It is estimated that, in these tests the computer has been more than 80 per cent accurate in detecting which brain scans are of people in pain or not. Conducted in a controlled laboratory environment, the study is said to need a further research to detect if the technology can be adapted to accurately show chronic pain.

Using this neuro-imaging technology, apart from the scale of pain, the team has also been successful in detecting whether the patient is in a state of pain or not. Hence, eventually with the use of this technology, doctors will be able to detect pain better and will be able to give better treatment of chronic pain.

So, the next time when we go to the doctor and he has this question in his mind for us that how much does it hurt, their computer will help them tell how much pain their patients are experiencing.

I agree it is a great innovation, and fingers crossed…. I pray that it meets the standards successfully. However, I would like to make a point that no matter how successful this innovation is, it will not give accurate results if the malware and other viruses affect it. Such malicious creatures have the tendency of disturbing the working of softwares installed in the computer as well as the whole computer rather. Moreover, this will lead to inappropriate treatment, thus increasing the complexities in the patient’s health. Hence, an Anti-Virus is a must for such computers.

Otherwise, how will the computer understand the pain we are going through?

BEWARE! You are spied while banking on internet!


Technology has advanced to such an extent that we now trust our computers in money matters. Coincidently, more than we may trust humans!

It is observed that major internet savvy users have stopped going to bank. Right from filling the forms and online applications to transferring the cash and all the other banking formalities we have started using internet. Let me not talk about the pros of the same. We all are aware of them. However, the overshadowed cons due to favourable pros of this facility need to be brought under notice.

One of the biggest security concerns when using internet banking facility is Keyloggers. In simple words these especially creative people tracking the keys struck on a keyboard from remote, while someone is banking on internet. We might have heard people saying that they have lost money from their account or there are some unknown transactions showing on their bank accounts using their internet banking accounts. This means that their account is being hacked!

Now, a question might arise that how is this possible? This is done secretly so that the person using the keyboard is not aware that his/her actions are being spied on. Key logging can be done from hardware and software-based approaches to electromagnetic as well as acoustic analysis. With is they are able to trace the username, password of the online banking accounts. And can take advantage of that information. It is easily possible by writing simple software applications for key logging. Later, these programs can easily be distributed as a Trojan horse or as part of a virus in the network. To whom-so-ever this virus stuck, is a victim!

Here, something which is not simple for the Keylogger is to install a hidden keystroke logger without being caught and to download the data that has been logged without being traced. Usually these Keyloggers manually connect to a host machine to download logged keystrokes risks being traced. There is always a risk of sending a Trojan to a fixed e-mail address or IP address because it may expose the key logger’s identity. One of the other ways that keyloggers try is by unconditionally writing the crypto Trojan to the last few unused sectors of every writable disk that is inserted into the machine that remain marked as unused, using a USB token. And only the Trojan writer can decrypt the cipher text because only he knows the needed private decryption key.

Hence, we need an alternative to the conventional computer. In year 2008, IBM engineers invented virtual keyboard also known as laser keyboard. Its primary use is when you need to type without a physical keyboard present. It is also used as an additional safety measure from viruses, Trojan and  that might be present in the computer that logs every keystroke from the keyboard waiting for you to type in your password or credit card number. Virtual Keyboards are the best for internet banking. This online application protects your password from malicious Spyware and Trojan Programs.

Presently, there are several programs available in the market today that can be added to any desktop or laptop system to create a virtual keyboard environment. Also, it can be downloaded from internet. Once installed on your computer, it is easy to access. Some times the original keyboard (hardware) is used to active the virtual component and using mouse virtual keys can be typed. Couple of more alternative devices such as head mouse and eye mouse can also be used. Laser technology can also be used to operate the virtual keyboard.

Apart from Virtual keyboard, the other ways to have a safe banking experience online is by using Anti- Keylogger softwares, Live CD/USB, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Virus programs, Network monitors, Automatic form filler programs, One-time passwords (OTP), Security tokens, On-screen keyboards, Keystroke interference software, Speech recognition, Handwriting recognition and mouse gestures, Macro expanders/recorders and so on!

Well, the fact is that effectiveness of countermeasures varies as keyloggers use various techniques to capture data and the countermeasure needs to be effective against the particular data capture technique. Also, there are always possibilities of the Keylogger software authors updating the code to adapt to countermeasures that may have proven to be effective against them. With the increasing advanced innovations, there are more advanced versions of thefts invented…. Or Visa Versa!

The bottom line is BEWARE!

Loving Internet, Thanks for saving us! – From Trees


I very well know that with the rising altitude in global warming in the recent times and how is Internet connected with global warming. I agree that using the internet uses energy, depleting fossil fuels, and so on. However, have we every thought about what has happened ever since the invention of Internet and the way it has become accessible to nearly everyone on the planet? I guess not….

We must have shared this point of view of our many a times that information sharing has become much faster and accessible than ever before with internet. However, we never stretched our thought a little thinking that prior to internet; we had to be more attentive and aware about the news, happening in the every corner of the world or research at a library to know about anything. However, now all this information is at our fingertips. We don’t need to store the piles of cuttings of the newspapers about the article we thought may be useful to us in future. With websites of almost every news channel and newspaper, usage of paper has drastically reduced.

Have we ever thought that now the transactions have become much more and accurate even while using less paper?  Well, ever since the invention of computer, the usage of papers has reduced a lot. Now, we are more comfortable saving our documents and pictures on computer folders rather than in piles of files. And now with almost every bank offering online transactions with secure processes, purchases on online stores and many such virtual activities… the constant need for paper supply has really come down.

How many of us have been offered discount from our mobile network service companies for using e-bills? Go ahead and switch to e-bills… they save lot of paper and also less hassle for you that you face trying to keep your paper bills files and secured.

I really appreciate online education. Virtual books, internet as a vast online encyclopedia, no paperwork at all, and even online submissions… wow…

Apart from this, when we say that internet gives us a way to be connected to like-minded individuals across the globe. Have we ever thought that earlier, one could only have few friends though now we can be connected to just about anyone across the globe. And with this if we analyze, Anna Hazare’s recent Anti-Corruption movement would not have been successful! Online activities and constant support through email campaigns as well as social networking sites contributed majorly in bringing the wholeIndiatogether. In fact, social networks have helped campaigns reach more ears—and eyes—than ever before. Without internet, just sit and think how it could have been possible and how long it could have taken to achieve the success in the campaign!

We save a lot on paper and mailing by sending emails. We can now telecommute instead of actually driving to work… have meetings via teleconference instead of flying to another city…

Practically speaking except getting motivated on June 5th every year how many of us really take initiative to plant trees. Well, though we do really contribute somewhere a lot in saving them… right!

Internet has long promised a more efficient and greener world…. It seems to be keeping its promise!

I wonder if trees could speak the language we could understand! I am sure the one whom they would thank the most would be internet!

IF JUNK… JUST BUNK…


Many a times we have received an e-mail that says something like: “Forward this e-mail on to 10 people and receive good luck for a month!” Or “If you forward this to 10 people, you’ll see something funny on your screen after you send it or forward this on to ’10’ of your friends” or “sign this petition” or “Forward this mail to 10 people or you’ll get bad luck,” or ” Forward this mail to 10 people and you’ll get good luck,” or “you’ll see something funny on your screen after you send it” or the very famous ‘Microsoft Email Lottery’!

I am sure almost 99% of the “Please forward this to everyone” emails we get almost regularly contain at least some misinformation. Rather sometimes, the entire email is completely a hoax. Even the one trying to warn us of some great peril are usually worthless, like HIV infected needles in coin return slots, gang member initiation rituals, kidnap attempts in parking lots, or simple procedures that will save someone in an emergency medical situation, at times are outrightly dangerous (if they contain virus).

Also, the e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to the mass letter. Many of us must have also received emails that say that “you can do your friends and family members a great favor by sending this information to them. You will be providing a service to your friends.”

I have also received many of the emails that try to play with our conscience by saying that “send this e-mail to 10 people… if you’re not ashamed of God/Jesus” or also the e-mails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease, “how would you feel if that was your child”…

I know these mails are received by many of us quite occasionally. My question is that how many of us respond to such mails as instructed? And what happens when we do so?

If I am not mistaken, the answer is NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS! True… we neither win any lottery… nor do something good or bad happen with us! So what is the purpose of these chain mails? When no one gets anything out of it… why do these mails… sorry chain mails keep knocking our inboxes?

Well, as it is said that in today’s world nothing happens without a reason… same applies for internet world!

These chain mails have tracker programs attached to its e-mails that track the cookies and e-mails of those whom you forward them to. It is one of the ways to get names and cookie tracking information for telemarketers and spammers. This activity helps them to validate the active e-mail accounts for their own profitable purposes. It so works like this that every time the mail is forwarded, the host sender gets a copy and then he is able to get lists of ‘active’ e-mail addresses to use in spam e-mails or sell to other spammers. In some cases, such mails also waste bandwidth and clog ISP’s mail servers.

Yes… it’s true…! The fact is that these spammers really don’t care about how they get our e-mail addresses as long as they get them.

Well, all I would say is that do a favor for yourself by stop adding your names to such types of listing… no matter how real they might sound, making you feel guilty that if you don’t…. just ignore them and do not participate!

In case we follow the instructions thinking that somehow, somewhere we are supporting a great cause, actually we are not! Just remember that such mails are all about getting e-mail addresses and nothing more! Rather we are inviting tons of junk mail in our inbox that may bring lots of deadly viruses to your computer! As apart from such emails firing up a program that can track where an email has gone and report back to a marketer, they can launch a program that installs itself on your computer to do all kinds of nasty things like, pop-up ads, using your computer to send out spam, or keyboard watchers, etc.

When someone sends one of such mails to us and 20 other people, our email address with such activity gets on the machines of 20 people. If 5 of them forward to 20 more people then our email address is now on about 100 different computers. The reason is that by default, most email programs include the entire list of people the original was sent to when it creates the forwarded copy. And if this activity is repeated a few more times, congratulations as without you doing anything, your email address is on thousands of computers!

Apart from ignoring such emails, the other best way to save you is to have an updated Anti-Virus. Never open an email attachment that you were not expecting. If an email comes through with an attachment, always check with the sender before opening, even if it’s someone you trust. The best idea is to just click the button marked Delete. Don’t click the Spam button as this will add the senders e-mail address to the spam list, and other genuine e-mails the person sends you could also get treated as spam. Also, the sender’s e-mail could get added to the companies black list, which may result in most of their e-mails also being treated as spam to other people they are e-mailing as well. This might not just affect us but others too!

So, conclusion is that by forwarding e-mails just can’t bring us luck or bad luck… if we don’t forward! And, above all the pain and suffering we go through; we are actually helping those spammers to get rich! Let’s not make it easy for them!

So if you are still someone who continues to forward the chain e-mails expecting any luck or due to the fear of bad luck, I urge you to stop this practice… If any junk mail in your inbox… just bunk it!

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